The Antler Almanac

Written by Big Game Camera Man on Saturday, November 2, 2013

Let the does work for you during the rut

A few years back, I filmed a hunt near Princeton, NJ, on a 22-acre property which I hadn't yet tried that season.  I'd had successes there before, so I was excited about the day's prospects. I was with a young but experienced hunter who had never before been on camera—the pressure was on!

The weather was difficult both for hunting and for filming—overcast, spitting rain, windy.  I had to concentrate on keeping my camera equipment covered and dry.

About 40 minutes after daybreak, an adult doe with her yearling came wandering along, feeding on acorns. They lingered near us for 15 minutes or so. My hunter was eager to harvest the doe, but I convinced him to hold off—we were out to take a buck, if possible. So, the doe moved on.  Moments later, the first buck of the morning appeared—a 1 ½ year old scrub buck, following the doe's trail nose down, almost step-for step. We made some calls just for fun and captured some video, but this wasn't the sort of buck we wanted to take.  His behavior convinced me that the doe was near estrus—which meant that, for us, she was a live decoy. It's funny how nature works; we were outfitted with my full line of lures, grunt calls, doe bleat, rattle-bag, etc., but, in this case, we didn't need any of them.

Within an hour or so of the doe's passing, four bucks followed the same trail. Number four was a heavy-beamed six-pointer with an 18-inch inside spread of dark, mahogany-colored horns. A rutting buck for sure, with a huge swollen neck, he must have weighed a good 180 lbs. on the hoof. He was so preoccupied with smelling the doe that he gave me over two full minutes of good video. All we had to do was wait until he presented us with a good shot. We let the air out of him at 22 yards—he expired in less than 30 seconds. After the interview and hero shots, the hunter and I smoked cigars and had an adult beverage to top off a successful day!

The moral of this story: Don't harvest a doe at this time of year; she may be the best lure you’ve got for attracting that alpha buck.


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About The Author

I’ve been in the business of filming hunts for 24 years now. I have hundreds of hours of...

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